Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’ maintains charm in 11th season

(Official It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia Facebook Page)

“It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” is currently airing its 11th season on FXX. Even after over a decade, the show continues to pump out hilarious material. Somehow Rob McElhenney, Charlie Day and Glenn Howerton manage to build on their absurd characters and situations, finding new ways to reinvent the show each season while maintaining core themes.

In the new season’s first episode, “Chardee MacDennis 2: Electric Boogaloo,” the gang takes a new angle on a fan favorite episode from season seven (“Chardee MacDennis: The Game of Games”). The popular Paddy’s Pub game “Chardee MacDennis” is back. Rather than simply playing to pass the time with the game, the gang attempts to sell it to an adult board game investor named Andy (played by Andy Buckley).

As in past episodes, a seemingly normal character (Andy in this case) gets juxtaposed against the ridiculousness of Charlie, Mac, Dee, Frank and Dennis. Andy cringes when the gang mainlines white wine but becomes gradually more interested as the game progresses. The waitress batters Charlie emotionally and Dennis and Dee team up to manipulate the game in their favor.

The humor in the show is structured around the narcissistic characters and sometimes even offers satirical commentary on social or political issues. In each episode the gang engages in schemes such as “solving” the gas crisis or fighting for or against abortion. They either work together or against each other – regardless, they are always in pursuit of their own self-interests, no matter if they cause each other serious physical or emotional harm.

The characters have distinct personalities that have become more exaggerated over the course of the show’s 11 seasons. Charlie began as a giddy janitor who had a crush on a waitress. He is now completely illiterate, but with glimmers of savant-like capabilities. Mac began as a cut-off t-shirt-wearing head of security, and is now so hypermasculine that his sexual orientation comes into question.

Dennis began as the more intelligent member of the group, albeit a master manipulator and womanizer. He has transformed into an utterly evil character with borderline predatory tendencies. Frank began as a vaguely responsible businessman and estranged father of Dennis and Dee, but like anyone that becomes involved with the gang, their collective inanity has permeated his character as well. Dee began as the group’s dejected voice of reason, but has devolved into a voice of self-righteousness deluded by vanity.

“Dee Made a Smut Film” is easily the strongest episode of the season so far. It embodies all the strengths that have made “Always Sunny” such a success throughout its long television run. Characters are further exaggerated and complicated, new situations are explored and humorous commentary is directed towards the modern art scene.

In the episode, Dee continues her pursuit to become an actress by making a smut film, and Mac and Frank exploit Charlie’s “talents” by trying to sell his “artwork” to a gallery. Much like in season nine’s episode “Flowers for Charlie,” Charlie’s lack of intelligence is pawned off here as creative genius.

What I find to be the only low point of the new season so far is the third episode, “The Gang Hits the Slopes.” This episode aims to poke fun at the ridiculousness of 1980s ski movies. It guest stars Dean Cameron as a burnout ski bum named Drisko. (Cameron starred in a 1990 comedy called “Ski School.”)

Cameron’s character is too bizarre, even for “Always Sunny” – he makes perverted jokes and spies on girls while they shower. It’s worth noting that the gang itself finds Drisko revolting. While it is good to stray from the norm, I believe this episode goes too far from home base. It is better for the writers to stick to the strengths of the show by building on past seasons and allowing the characters to exhibit their unique traits.

As a fan of the show for its 11 seasons, “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” continues to impress me with each return. Despite the show’s longevity, its characters still have all the same charm from their debut, and as they age they evolve and become more complex. That said, it’s probably best for new viewers to start at the beginning rather than jump in to the new episodes, to get to know the characters and appreciate the humor along the rowdy ride.

Matthew Armstrong can be reached at [email protected].

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